I pulled up in front of Aaron’s day group today, waiting for him to come outside and wondering as I always do in what mood I would find him. He wasn’t very happy to go this morning. Mondays are often difficult for Aaron, like they are for many who must return to work or school. Problem is, Aaron isn’t always able to filter his frustrations, so he may be angry and rude as he expresses his Monday morning blues. But he did go this morning, carrying his bag as he got out of the van…….his bag holding two bottles of water from the house, two sausage biscuits and two boxes of Hot Tamales from Quik Trip, and two cucumbers from our garden. The water and the food was for Aaron. The cucumbers were for whomever he decided to give them to today.
Aaron’s language of love toward others is definitely sharing. I have to watch him or he might try to sneak things out of the house that I don’t want him to share. Or he might bring a smile, as he did a couple weeks ago, when he put a few okra from our garden into his pocket…..and gave several of the staff at his day group AN okra. One okra. I’ve wondered if they think me a bit stingy.
Anyway, I sat in front of Paradigm today trying to prepare myself for whatever form of Aaron would soon be climbing in the van beside me. Happy Aaron? Sad Aaron? Tired Aaron? Angry Aaron? It’s so much like still having a kindergartner in school, going to pick them up and waiting for their stories of the day, and seeing what frame of mind they are in. Except that all the clients at Paradigm are adults, not young children. My Aaron is nearly 32 years old and weighs 225 pounds! He is grown up, but sometimes still his issues are not.
He walked out today with Barb, his very loving staff, holding Piper the resident therapy dog. Along with Aaron and Barb walked one of Aaron’s friends who often comes to the van with Aaron to see if I have brought our big Jackson. I could tell that Aaron looked like he had been crying at some point, and I was right. As the van door opened, Aaron’s mouth also opened as he told me that he had gotten mad at J for telling him to be quiet so that another client could sleep…..and Aaron thought that J was being bossy…..and Aaron didn’t like a hand motion that he said J made (nothing bad – Aaron just really doesn’t like other’s hand motions)…..and so Aaron hit J in the back…..really hard.
Oh dear. Children’s issues but in adult bodies. Barb was kind and supportive as Aaron declared that he did not want to come to Paradigm tomorrow, telling him that she hoped he would come, but not pushing the issue. I said a little but not much, knowing it’s best to let the dust settle first. More soft words from Barb and then she mentioned that he gave his two cucumbers away…..and his little friend standing behind Barb brightened, opened her purse, and pulled out one of the large cucumbers. Aaron brightened, too, and my heart softened for this man/boy who has so many conflicted emotions in any given day, today included. The moment suddenly turned sweet and funny, his little friend happily holding up her cucumber with a big smile on her face. These special adults can touch me so deeply if I just pause to soak it all in.
Reality hit again as Aaron and I drove away. He told me once more that he didn’t want to go back tomorrow. I was seeing a long evening ahead of anger and sadness, with Gary getting hit with it as soon as he unknowingly walked in the door. So I calmly talked to Aaron for probably the zillionth time about not hitting people, about how that holds him down in life, and how someday he might get hurt.
He turned on the CD of Zac Brown. “Don’t talk, Mom,” he instructed. “Let’s just listen.”
This suited me fine. We hit the three lane and rode in silence in rush hour traffic. Finally, he reached over and turned off Zac Brown.
“Mom?” he asked. “Can we go to Dillon’s and let me get a sorry card?”
What?! Aaron’s mood had dramatically changed. As he has in the past, he wanted to once again get a “sorry card” for someone he had hurt. But this change had happened quickly. He was sincere and quiet as we talked about it. I told him that we had cards at home he could use, and he was satisfied with that.
“And can I bring Barb an okra?” he continued. I suggested a green pepper instead, and he was excited at that idea.
“Mom?” he asked again. “I’d like to bring S a stuffed animal. That’s why I wanted to bring her my spider.” But I reminded him that his cute stuffed spider was a special gift from Bruce and Glenda, from Hawaii, and he shouldn’t give that away. I told him we would look for something else to give S…..his very special friend who is wheelchair bound, all bent over, and the girl with whom Aaron loves to share his food and his conversation.
I can’t explain the positive change in Aaron’s mood, but I sure have been praying lately about his hitting and his anger at times. Praying, too, as Gary and I get so tired some days. So I may not be able to explain Aaron’s happiness tonight, but I can say thank-you to God for allowing it.
I ended up finding an ancient little “sorry card” that I had saved in my ancient container of cards……two “sorry cards,” in fact……so Aaron chose the one he wanted to give J. Later, he saw the Burger King coupons from yesterday’s paper that he had cut out. He asked if he could give one to J, so we chose one to cut out and include with the “sorry card.”
Then I showed him one of the green peppers from our garden that he could give to Barb, and it met his approval.
Finding something for S was a little more difficult, but I remembered a very soft pillow stuffed with tiny microbeads, a pillow that Aaron never uses. He set it aside in his room, ready to take to S tomorrow.
I was happy that I had started supper early because Aaron wanted me to play the Frog in the Pond game on the Atari system that Gary hooked up to Aaron’s computer. We laughed and laughed and laughed at me trying to get the frog to catch the bugs.
Aaron offered to set the table for supper. He fed Jackson a piece of asparagus stalk. He didn’t dump bad news on Gary when he came home from work. He told Gary all about our Atari game and all about his sharing plans for tomorrow, but barely was mention made of his rough spot today and why he needed to give J a “sorry card.” We watched Wheel of Fortune, and we laughed ourselves silly at the Nexium commercial with the man who was made into a burrito.
I pray that tomorrow morning, when Aaron wakes up and is tired, that he doesn’t change his mind about all that he has planned for tomorrow. I pray that he is excited about all the things he plans to take to give away, especially the “sorry card.” That’s the most important of all.
I’m grateful for this happy evening, and I know that it is one to which I can direct Aaron as an example of how to handle life’s rough patches. I can honestly tell Aaron that he was a wonderful example to ME of how to overcome anger and frustration.
Sharing touches a loving chord in Aaron’s soul. It always has. I need to work with that more, and get creative.
I can see a trip to Dollar Tree in our future. We need to restock Aaron’s “give away” items, or I may be missing some dishes…..towels…..jewelry……